New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that no criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs can be withdrawn by state governments, without prior orders from the state High Courts, while hearing a petition filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking a direction to debar those convicted MLAs and MPs from contesting elections for life.
"No criminal case against sitting (former) MPs and MLAs can be withdrawn by the State Govts without prior orders from the State High Court," a three-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana and also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Vineet Saran said today.
The CJI Ramama also slammed the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) for not filing the status report in the case.
"Why the report has not been filed? When this matter started, we are assured that the Government is very serious about this issue and wanted to do something. But nothing has happened. No progress so far. When you (CBI) are reluctant to even file the status reports, what can you expect us to say?" the CJI observed this, after expressing its displeasure over the way the CBI failed to file its status report today.
The Apex Court was hearing the petition filed by lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking a direction to debar convicted MLAs and MPs from contesting elections for life and setting up of special courts and speedy disposal of cases against them.
Senior lawyer, Vijay Hansaria, who is the Amicus Curiae (A friend of the Court) in the case, submitted to the Apex Court that he had received the status report from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) but not from CBI.
To this, the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, clarified that he has not filed the report yet, and sought more time to file the same.
The SG said that "My lord we filed a report yesterday on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). I emphasized the need for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director to immediately place before your lordships."
The CJI said that this way, it does not work. Something has to be presumed.
The CJI also hinted that a special bench has to be constituted to monitor these cases.
The SG Mehta pleaded to the Apex Court for granting him another "last opportunity", in the case and said that we will comply if you grant us the last opportunity.
Hansaria, showing his concern, said that the issue of withdrawal of cases against MPs/ MLAs by the order of the Karnataka state government against 61 such leaders, has to be considered by this Apex Court and he pleaded that the Supreme Court must pass orders that without the order of the concerned State High Courts, the state government cannot pass any order for withdrawal of any cases against the convicted MPs and MLAs.
Many other state governments, including that of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, have passed some sort of orders too to withdraw cases against their respective public representatives, who were convicted of cases, Hansaria said.
The CJI said to let the matter be adjourned for two weeks on the request of SG Mehta.
The Apex Court also said that the State High Courts are requested to examine the withdrawal of cases against MP MLAs since September 2020, while citing the judgment of the case of the Kerala government against K Ajith.
The CJI also said that the Registrar General of all High Courts are required to submit a chart of judges, pending cases, disposed off cases etc before this court.
The Top Court also said that the judges hearing such cases, in CBI courts, special courts hearing, will continue till further orders, and listed the matter for further hearing to August 25, 2021.